New Year’s Traditions Around the World

As we say goodbye to 2018 and welcome in 2019, we have a lot of travel plans for the coming year. We’re celebrating 50 years of helping clients make their travel dreams come true, and along the way we’ve picked up some favorite New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world. Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2019. Use some of these tricks from other cultures to ensure a prosperous new year.

Spain

At the clock hits midnight, Spaniards eat a grape at each chime. The 12 grapes represent good luck in each month of the coming year. After midnight, the party really begins, as Spaniards take to the streets and pass around bottles of cava. In large cities, especially the capital of Madrid, they gather in the main squares and celebrate deep into the night. As the sun rises, they drink hot chocolate and eat churros before heading to bed for most of the day. Sounds like something we can get behind.

Brazil

It being summertime and water being such a big part of Brazilian culture, a lot of New Year’s traditions are centered around the ocean. Flowers and floating candles are put to sea as offerings to the goddess Iemanja, a water deity from the Yoruba religion brought to the Americas by African slaves. Some people jump over seven waves, making a wish with each hop. Others eat seven raisins and keep the seeds in their wallets to encourage money to grow. Most wear white as a symbol of peace, mixing in green for health, yellow for money, red for passion and purple for inspiration.

Japan

The Japanese hold bonenkai parties to forget the old year’s troubles and leave them in the past. The traditional meal is soba noodles to promote a long life. Watching the sunrise on Jan. 1 to greet the new year is a popular pastime. Temples and shrines attract visitors from across the country by the millions from Jan. 1-3, when most businesses are closed. People send out cards to friends, loved ones and co-workers that are marked for delivery on New Year’s Day, and the first three days of the year are spent with family.

South Africa

In Cape Town, people head up to the top of Table Mountain before a night on the waterfront. There’s a sunset concert at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on the slopes of the mountain, and the last tram back down to the city is at 9:30 p.m. Fireworks light up the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront at midnight, and afterward revelers head to all-night beach parties by candlelight. A day outside the city in the Cape Winelands is also a terrific getaway, and it stays light out until around 8 p.m.

Denmark

The evening starts out rather tame, with a speech from the queen at 6 p.m. Things get progressively more rowdy, as Danes meet friends for a big late dinner after a snack of cod with mustard sauce at home. It’s one of the six nights a year shooting off fireworks is legal, and Danes make the most of it. At midnight, they smash old dishes on the doors of friends. While cleaning up in the morning might not be the most fun thing in the world, a big mess means you have lots of friends who love you enough to trash your house.

Top Kitesurfing Destinations

It may look daunting at first, but it’s a fairly easy sport to take up. Yes, like any other watersport, you need balance and discipline. But in kitesurfing, you get a big assist from the elements. Given the right conditions, a novice can soon look like an old pro, and the experience is exhilarating for beginners and more experienced wave riders alike. Here are some of the world’s top spots for kitesurfing, whether it’s your first time or you’re looking for a new challenge. Just add wind and water.

Maui


Ka‘a Point on the north shore of Maui near the airport has a great combination of water conditions, with a protected cove that has flat water close to the shore, chop in intermediate depths and good jumping waves just off the point. Nearby “Action Beach” is home to instructional schools and a good place for learners to get started. Watch the pros compete in contests at Ho‘okipa Beach and pick up some pointers. Take your lessons well enough and you just might be able to join them yourself on a future visit.

Turks and Caicos


Quickly emerging as a destination for kitesurfing, Turks and Caicos match up well against any other Caribbean islands in quality. On Providenciales, the main island, Long Bay Beach has soft sand and shallow waters particularly forgiving to first-timers, with a long flat ride. Though it’s just a few minutes from popular Grace Bay Beach, Long Bay is often uncrowded, leaving you plenty of room to work. Once you have experience under your belt, Grace Bay’s deeper waters and northeast winds make for a rewarding challenge, producing plenty of chops and a good break off the reef about a mile out.

Tarifa, Spain


Just a glance at the map explains why Tarifa is the kitesurfing capital of Europe. Situated on the Atlantic side of the Strait of Gibraltar, just across from Africa, there’s a 6-mile stretch of beach that’s basically a huge wind tunnel. The wind coming from the east is generally consistent and not too heavy, making it easy for just about anyone to catch a smooth ride. Where things pick up is when the from the west blows in, building speed as it does so and gusting close to 60 mph at times, often for days or weeks at a time.

Nabq Bay, Egypt


On the Sinai Peninsula, where the Gulf of Aqaba (aka Gulf of Eilat) meets the Red Sea, conditions are ripe for kitesurfing. Tiran Island sits at the meeting point, creating twin lagoons that are shallow with sandy bottoms. One area is perfect for beginners, while experienced riders flock to the other. Though kitesurfing only began in the area about a quarter-century ago, it easily became recognized worldwide as a mecca for enthusiasts.

Cumbuco, Brazil


Brazil has more than 4,500 miles of coastline, so it’s no surprise that some stretch of it is one of the top spots in the world for something. As Ipanema and Copacabana beaches are the places to see, be seen and party, Cumbuco on the country’s northeastern coast is the place to catch wind and waves. The weather is almost always perfect, the wind is steady and there is a tight-knit community of devotees who train regularly. With zones of flat water and areas with high waves, it’s a great place to start out and work your way up as your skills and confidence improve.